The Great Awakening of the Mommy Patriots

It doesn’t matter what Sarah Palin does. Or even whether Michele Bachmann runs. What matters is that thousands of conservative women are connecting with their female candidates—and each other—with unexpected passion. This new segment of politically active women has found its voice, and its members don’t plan on shutting up or sitting down in 2012

Christina Bellantoni
Photograph: IIllustrated by Yuko Shimizu

I’m shocked to see that there is no Palin staffer taking down contact information—e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers—for the 1,000 or so fans, each one a potential fund raiser or volunteer. If Palin is considering a run for president, this is a pretty significant oversight, which makes me think she has no such intention.

Around lunchtime, Boone emerges from having her book signed and, flashing the autograph at the waiting line, declares, “She’s here!” The crowd cheers. Boone wipes tears from her eyes and steps up to a radio reporter’s microphone. “I was shaking,” Boone says, then compares the feeling of meeting Palin to the one she got when she met Poison rock star Bret Michaels. As Boone tells it, when she stepped up to the signing area, Palin (“She’s sooo petite!”) greeted her with a firm handshake. “She stood right up and asked my name,” and when Boone told the former governor she’d been waiting since the night before, Palin exclaimed, “Oh, you have! Oh, I’m so happy to meet you!” Seconds later, the meeting was over, but Boone says it “made my year.”

I’m thinking about getting a copy of the book signed for myself. The press hasn’t been allowed anywhere near Palin today other than for a minute when the bookstore door cracked open to let Boone in, so getting close would be a coup. Plus, my aunt back in Clyde, California, a Palin fan, would be excited to have it. I nab a ticket but am so busy interviewing people and tweeting photos that I keep letting others jump ahead of me. Finally, there’s no one left, and I reach the head of the line. What the hell, I think. Palin and I had been in the same room only once before, back when she was still governor and Obama had just won the presidency. But my Palin moment evaporates as an aide takes my book and hands me one that’s been presigned. Still, I tell Palin my name, and she reaches out. Her grip is strong, and I am impressed with her eye contact. Then she’s on to the next buyer. I’m annoyed at myself because I didn’t blurt out a question, even though I know it’s not the time or place.

A month later, in mid-December, I call veteran conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly to ask for her perspective. “2010 was the real year of the woman, the conservative woman, the pro-life woman,” she says. “These women had a big impact in the November elections. When you taste victory like that, you want to stick with it. They will play a big role in 2012.” She surprises me by comparing today’s Mama Grizzlies to other female revolutionaries. “Those women were pro-life, pro-family, and they were working for a specific goal that was good,” she says. “Suffragette women were more like the Tea Party and the anti-ERA movement.”

Some of this sounds not unlike what I hear when I call Marsha Blackburn, a Republican Congresswoman from Tennessee, who tells me her GOP colleagues know they’ll be voted out if they don’t deliver. “[Women’s] engagement is going to set the tone for much of what is going to happen in 2012,” Blackburn says. She believes she is supported by women not because she’s a Republican but because she knows “what it’s like to work all week and go home and work all weekend. My decisions will be closer to the decisions they make. [Conservative women] think, I am not going to sit still and let politicians spend away my child’s future. I am going to get up and do something about it. Women do a great job of holding people accountable.”

Blackburn and Schlafly are convinced that these women will have a real say in who gets elected in 2012. But as I end my journey, I’m not so sure. I’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm and emotion, but political activism requires much more—money, time, willingness to make cold calls and ring doorbells. When I contact -Christi Becker again in March, she admits she has been too busy with her family to do much for a female candidate since we last spoke; Christine Boone says the same.

First Published May 10, 2011

What’s your reaction?

Comments

Allison Roelen05.28.2011

It's refreshing to finally see a magazine, especially a women's magazine recognize that not all women are ultra feminist progressives - One of the key future woman leaders in politics is not included from Ms. Bellatoni - and that is Jaime Radtke who is running for the VA Senate and a force to be reckoned with - she has what it takes, understands the real issues as well as realistic solutions and is a mother above all else - and is running and awaiting the Palinization attacks of the left because she cannot stand by and watch her children's future be destroyed by socialism which has destroyed so many economies and even worse - the gumption for people to be motivated to do their best & innovate - remember this - without a meritocracy there will only be mediocrity - and that is one of the key messages of true conservatives, or as I liken myself - True citizens who honor and revere the Constitution as our founding document - it doesn't need to be re-written it needs to be 're-read' as Herman Cain so aptly said - I hope that MORE and other magazines will be willing to actually participate as journalists - aka unbiased, both sides reporting as well as instead of the on-going nonsensical guilt trips put out to women that if they aren't working, having some fabulous career they're somehow less fulfilled or not even self-actualized - I have been a single working mother for many years and I can tell you that you can't have your cake and eat it too - no one expects men to do this - so why do women in particular slam other women for not 'having it all?' You can't something always has to give and trust me when I say - your family, children and their upbringing are the first priority - this is fundamental to what's breaking down our society.

05.26.2011

"The women are refusing to let me into their homes". The article "The Great Awakening of the Mommy Patriots" begins like a Gothic novel and I was intrigued. Rising at dawn for a 2 hour drive to meet with The Mommy Patriots at a (oh no!) public library to interview women loyal to the Tea Party Movement has annoyed the author, Christian Bellantoni, of the WASHINGTON TIMES. As the ladies munch on carrot sticks, the author compares the "unexpected passion" for conservatism to the adolescent hysterics of meeting a rock star.
So, like any good Gothic heroine, I did some sleuthing. Let's go to Bellantoni's article in the WASHINGTON TIMES dated 01/25/2009 titled "Obama Volunteers Aim To Stay Involved". A group of (10) Obama suppporters were INVITED to lunch at the beautiful Oceanaire Restaurant in Washington, D.C. as guests of, you guessed correctly, THE WASHINGTON TIMES. The praises of the newly elected administration rang out clear as a bell on an old Gothic church. I thought the re-election campaign had started. No wonder Ms. Bellantoni was put upon, no water glasses at the public library?
Unfortunately, no intelligent insight was forthcoming as to the mindset of women conservatives and that's a shame. MORE readers, and I've been subscribing for at least 10 years, deserve better. MORE would benefit by healthy discussions of conservatism by enlisting conservative writers (Ms. Bellantoni is a self-described Liberal). You can email me! Thanks.

05.20.2011

The most passionate conservative Mommy patriot I've met is Kimberly Fletcher (kimberlyfletcher.com). I'm not a Sarah Palin fan at all, but Kimberly's message of encouraging stay-at-home moms to become politically active -- and showing them how they can do it without sacrificing (as they see it) their families is thought-provoking.

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